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Movie Review: “Sierra Burgess is a Loser” Is a Loser

%22Sierra+Burgess+is+a+Loser%22+teaches+that+being+an+outcast+somehow+excuses+unforgivable+bullying.

"Sierra Burgess is a Loser" teaches that being an outcast somehow excuses unforgivable bullying.

"Sierra Burgess is a Loser" teaches that being an outcast somehow excuses unforgivable bullying.

Daniel Lubliner, Reporter

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The latest Netflix original movie, “Sierra Burgess is a Loser,” has divided audiences across the world upon its release in late August. Some people think it is a touching story about conflicted identity and being different, but others, myself included, think that Sierra Burgess is a despicable character who effortlessly managed to catfish the boy of her dreams, pretend to be deaf, and cyberbully one of her only friends in the span of an hour and 45 minutes: that takes talent. At the onset of the film, Sierra is a bit of a loner; she spends the majority of her time with her best friend Dan. She is very intelligent and is able to think on a deeper level than her peers, which is shown when her English teacher implies that she is the best in her class. All in all, before the drama of the movie, Sierra is a likable character who tends to shy away from drama.

We met Veronica, the film’s anti-Sierra, and her posse of “popular girls” relatively quickly. Veronica saw a tutoring ad that was posted by Sierra and ripped off the phone number attached to it, effectively setting the drama of the film into motion. Veronica’s character comes across as unoriginal and very formulaic; the Regina George-esque popular girl who changes for the better has been done. Later in a cafe, Veronica and her gal-pals are sitting in a booth until Jamey, portrayed by the internet’s current obsession, Noah Centineo, saunters up to her, hoping to score a date.

Because Veronica is the very definition of the petty queen bee archetype, she devilishly gives Sierra’s phone number from the tutoring advertisement to Jamey. Very creative, Veronica! Eventually, Veronica and Sierra form an unconventional friendship forged upon these terms: Veronica must provide a pretty face to sync with Sierra’s voice for video-chatting and dating Jamey, and Sierra must educate Veronica so she can get back with her snobby ex. The majority of the film’s drama revolves around Sierra’s ups and downs of feeling as if Jamey will like her for her, and alternatively feeling as if Veronica’s looks are what Jamey really wants. Eventually, Sierra pretends to be a deaf girl to avoid talking to Jamey. This particular scene left a sour taste in my mouth for obvious reasons.

Sierra pretending she is deaf is a perfect example of why she doesn’t deserve to have a boyfriend. Later on, Sierra sees Veronica allowing Jamey to kiss her, the girl he thinks is his girlfriend, before his football game. This angered Sierra because she told Veronica to never kiss Jamey, and Veronica, having had a rough day, forgot this vital rule. The way Sierra reacts to this development is more than enough evidence for why she is considered a loser: Sierra unearths a photo of Veronica and her ex in a car, writes “dumped over DM” on the image, and sends it out to the entire school. One boy at the game finds a way to project the image of Veronica onto the scoreboard, much to everyone’s shock.

One thing I liked about this scene was how it felt as if Sierra and Veronica had switched roles. Sierra had become the mean girl, while Veronica had found the better parts of herself through distancing herself from her popularity. Seeing Veronica, trapped like a deer in the headlights, as she gaped in horror at the scoreboard really made me more sympathetic towards her. In the end, Sierra is lonelier than ever, and she writes a song for her friends about how she’s different. Jamey, Dan, and Veronica all hear the song and forgive her for being a vile person.

This is wrong for a number of reasons. For one thing, being different or a loner in no way allows you to bully people. Sierra being a loner doesn’t mean people should feel obligated to like her. In her self-pitying apology anthem, Sierra compares herself to a sunflower, rather than the prettier rose; calling herself a little funny, and singing the blues about how boys don’t pick her. So what if she “isn’t like other girls”? So what if she’s “a little funny?” This film beats the audience to death with the idea that being conventionally unpopular is synonymous with being a good person despite your social hiccups.

However, Sierra’s actions were in no way hiccups, and the film makes no effort to portray them as such. By far, one of the biggest problems with this film is the way it ends. Sierra writes a song about feeling ugly and sends it to her friends. Sierra’s song, though beautiful, serves only to highlight all the ways she has suffered emotionally, never addressing the ways that she has made her friends’ lives miserable as well.

Ultimately, Veronica gets Jamey to take Sierra to the dance, and they all walk into the dance together. This development is definitely the most problematic because Sierra gets the guy and her friends, but we have no evidence that she has changed. To me, it felt as if Sierra invoked pity within her friends, and that is the sole reason that they took her back. Through and through, Sierra found a way to manipulate the people closest to her, and that is why she is truly a loser.

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Movie Review: “Sierra Burgess is a Loser” Is a Loser